27 September 2006

The Backlash Begins

I've been speaking with some Alaska native leaders in this region and they are - without exception - excited by the prospect of 100 gallons of free heating fuel from Venezualen-owned Citgo.

But not everyone shares their sentiments. The ADN has already editorialized against the program:

It's probably too late to undo the embarrassment this year, unless the North Slope oil companies are willing to volunteer the financial aid. But let's hope Alaska doesn't make the same mistake next year. The state, with all its oil wealth, and Alaska's regional Native corporations, with their profits, should provide leadership on the issue -- and not allow Venezuela to rub our noses in oil.
And now 7-Eleven is getting into the act:
7-Eleven Inc. dropped Venezuela-owned Citgo as its gasoline supplier after more than 20 years as part of a previously announced plan by the convenience store operator to launch its own brand of fuel.

7-Eleven officials said Wednesday that the decision was partly motivated by politics.

"Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans' concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela's president," said 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris.

"Certainly Chavez's position and statements over the past year or so didn't tempt us to stay with Citgo," she added.

I want to know why, if we want to react to Citgo's actions, no one has mentioned the most obvious sign of Citgo's presence in the United States on the other coast.
UPDATE: The Juneau Empire, via the News-Miner, has also joined the mix:
It's like a kick in the gut to open the newspaper and read that Alaskans are getting aid from the likes of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

With the high price of oil everywhere, who couldn't use a little help with the heating bills this winter?

The catch is that the help comes from Citgo, a Houston-based oil company owned by Venezuela. And Chavez, addressing the United Nations General Assembly about the same time, called President George Bush "the devil." He then said that the podium where Bush had spoken still smelled of sulfur.

If Chavez wanted to get the public's attention, he certainly succeeded, judging from coverage on cable news shows. If he wanted to win friends in Alaska, he failed. You don't have to have voted for Bush to be offended by such remarks.

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